Saturday, January 10, 2015

Gotta Believe!

Just by luck (or something) I found myself here at my desk this morning with the television on beside me. After the local news I switched over to Antennae TV just in time to catch a rerun of Here Come The Brides. I remember that show from its original run when I was kid. Didn't have much interest in it then as it was mostly over my head with its emphasis on the complexities of male-female relationships. But now I enjoy taking in a rerun every now and then.

Anyway, today's particular episode - one I had not previously seen - was A Man & His Magic, (Original air date: 12/4/68), starring the late, great character actor Jack Albertson (how I miss his work!) playing the role of a snake oil salesman and all round smooth-talker, appropriately enough named Merlin, who blew into Seattle in the midst of torrential rain storm. He boldly promised he could stop the rain, which was endangering the town and its businesses with the threat of flood. (By the way, this episode, if you are interested, is available on Youtube and perhaps other internet sources as well.)

Luck was with him and the rain did stop after he had performed his anti-rain ritual, as much to his own shock as anyone else's. The grateful townspeople passed the hat and gathered a donation for Merlin.

Former teenage heartthrob Bobby Sherman played the role on this series of youngest Bolt brother (the major protagonists), Jeremy. Jeremy was young, naive, simple and sweet, and he suffered from stuttering. But in this episode, Merlin actually manages to "cure" him of his stutter.

Merlin had further endeared himself to the town folk with his alcohol-laced "miracle elixir." Hooch has a well-deserved reputation (when not overdone) for being a merrymaker, and the people did indeed "feel better" after taking the elixir.

But as is the nature of life, reality soon sets in. The rains return and Merlin skips. Jeremy is shattered at the idea his miracle man is a huckster and his loss of faith brings back the stutter.

Should I blow a great ending by giving away the ending? Suffice it to say there is some great speech-making at the end on the importance of belief, after the middle Bolt brother (Joshua, played by David Soul) retrieves Merlin and brings him back to face the town. Merlin is eventually redeemed for his ability to inspire people to believe in magic, especially the "magic" inside themselves. Even oldest brother Jason Bolt lectures his little brother about the power of placebo.

Aaron Stempel, the series foil to the Bolt Brothers, serves as the token skeptic. Reasonable to a fault and not willing to suffer fools, he wants Merlin's hide. But in the end the townspeople, as most folks do in life, side with the magic.

All in all, a happy hour (with commercials, ugh!) well spent by me. And I think anyone could benefit from at least considering the moral of this story. Really, you need to see the episode to fully appreciate it. But I'm one who enjoys a good story, parable, or fable rich in meaning.

My cynical non-believing friends will not appreciate this, I'm sure. This type of thinking is "dangerous," they will suggest.

And yet anyone who has ever fallen in love with a special someone knows the power of belief, of hoping one's feelings are not misleading. Anyone who has ever succeeded at a difficult task, the accomplishing of which seemed remote at first, knows what I'm saying.

We need to believe in magic. We need hope to make life tolerable. Without faith, nothing gets accomplished. That is simply because there are no guarantees in life. But failure need not be final. And sometimes what at first seems like failure, in the end might prove not to be. Proper perspective does wonders for life assessment.

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